Thursday, March 31, 2005

Oldest former Policeman unveils RGP Memorial Plaque

by Alice Mascarenhas

87 year old former police officer John Cano yesterday unveiled a memorial plaque in memory of both past, present and future serving officers of the Royal Gibraltar Police.

The plaque situated within the patio walls of New Mole House Police Headquarters for officers and their families, retired and present, to see when they visit Police Headquarters forms part of the 175th celebrations which will be taking place between now and June 25 when a special parade marking the anniversary will be held along Main Street.

Commissioner Joe Ullger described the event as a very special occasion which was very much linked to this anniversary year. Mr Ullger was adamant that the plaque would serve as a memory and reminder of all the police officers who have served and are serving with the Royal Gibraltar Police.

As former PC Cano unveiled the plaque the words ‘In Memory of those who served’ were revealed. The short ceremony included the participation of members of the Force, and former officers. It was followed by a series of short prayers read out by the Bishop of Gibraltar Charles Caruana, The Dean Alan Woods and Rabbi Hassid. Addressing the small gathering, the Commissioner emphasised how special the event was.

“Today we have a very special police force which is committed, accountable and modern and meeting the expectations of the community. And we have to thank not just the present police officers but those from our past.”

Mr Ullger paid tribute to the first Gibraltarian Commissioner of police Pepe Morello who was present at the ceremony as were a number of the older officers who today are the committee members of the Retired Police Officers Club.

What this plaque commemorates is all those officers who have served dating back to 1830 when the then police officers started the Gibraltar Police right through to the present time. We have to be so grateful to them all for the building of this police force.

Mr Ullger said the plaque also commemorated the fellowship and comradeship which existed today within the Royal Gibraltar Police.

With the help of the Association of Retired Police Officers, former PC John Cano, was found to be the eldest living retired officer. Mr Cano who admitted he was a tough policeman and never let anyone get away with anything is proud to have belonged to the force. PC Cano joined the service on 8 October 1939, and retired after 31 years and 10 months service, on 21 August 1971.

“Being a policeman who had to go on the different beats, it was almost like being a watchman making sure everyone was safe. We would check all the doors making sure they were locked and that there was nothing out of place,” he said.

On the beat then meant you would walk all around the Rock and be made aware if anything was out of place. From Napier Battery to the Dockyard, Buena Vista to Prince Edward Road, every nook and cranny on the Rock was covered.

In those days the Sargeant on duty waited for the officer on duty at the different points along the way making sure that they were keeping to time.

Even today he admits he is very much aware of all that is happening around him, and almost walks like on the beat.

And he agrees that “once a policeman, always a policeman, exactly. If I were young again I would be a police officer all over again!”

Commenting on the ceremony, former police Commissioner Pepe Morello said it was of great significance, and spoke of the great changes in the force since his day. He joined the force in 1951. Mr Morello who will have been present at all three significant police anniversaries, the 125th, the 150th and now the 175th, said the ceremony yesterday was of great importance since it remembered in particular all the predecessors.

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